I would venture to guess that most EMPT readers are familiar with Hot Chip, the excellent, enduring brainchild of Alexis Taylor and Joe Goddard. One of my favorite bands, Hot Chip have brilliantly managed to become popular internationally without becoming “mainstream.” They headline festivals, but you won’t hear them on the radio (unless you listen to the good shit in the UK and Australia, or KCRW).
Both Taylor and Goddard are musical geniuses, in very different ways. Taylor’s melodies always sound slightly off, and yet are right on the money. Goddard’s productions are dance-y in spite of their often melancholic, street-facing moods.
Yet they too fly under the radar. Most Hot Chip fans wouldn’t recognize either man on the street, and they aren’t exactly performing at the Grammys. And that’s fine. Fronting a successful band while avoiding public recognition is the ultimate success (exemplified by Daft Punk) for many artists, as they maintain freedom to operate without immense public pressure.
In ’09, Taylor formed a “supergroup” called About Group and recorded a fully improvised album. The group released a second LP in 2011, to little fanfare. Both albums are romps into the mind of this specific artist, and if you dig his thing, you will enjoy them.
Goddard’s side project, though, takes the cake. The Two Bears is he and Raf Rundell, who you definitely haven’t heard of, producing subdued garage two-step and generally having fun. They released three EPs in 2010-2011, and a full length, “Be Strong,” in 2012. Their discography counts as a must-listen. Every song is different, and every song is great.
Today I share with you my favorite track, “Heart of the Congos,” which shares the story of a man who grows up listening to The Congos, an early reggae group, and eventually gets to see them at a concert. Sounds random, and it is, but Rundell’s crooning over Goddard’s late-night house beats bring the story to life in vivid color. And I’m not even touching the crazy vocoded chorus and bridge…
“I said it was the sound/that kept me on the ground.”